The best word to describe Israel's former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is Machiavellian. He was also a fanatic who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals, even committing war crimes in Beirut during the bloody invasion of Lebanon that he had pushed for. Now I've come to realize just how diabolical his actions as Israel's Prime Minister were, and how they continue to bedevil the region today.
Jonathan Cook: The legacy of Ariel ‘the bulldozer’ Sharon
According to Menachem Klein, a politics professor at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, Sharon created Israel’s modern “military norms” through his founding of a secretive “retribution squad”, named Unit 101, that operated through the 1950s and 1960s.
Today, Sharon’s military philosophy is reflected in the Israeli army’s Dahiya doctrine – its policy in recent confrontations to send Israel’s neighbours in Gaza and Lebanon “into the dark ages” through massive destruction of their physical infrastructure.We've all witnessed the brutal 'Dahiya doctrine' inflicted on Gaza for the last month.
The late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling famously coined a term for Sharon’s policy: politicide. In this view, Sharon’s goal was to create conditions that “lower Palestinian expectations, crush their resistance, isolate them, make them submit to any arrangement suggested by the Israelis, and eventually cause their ‘voluntary’ mass emigration”.Judging by his actions as Prime Minister Netanyahu shares his predecessor's views of putting off any formal resolution to the conflict for the distant future while Bibi continues Israel's slow motion ethnic cleansing of the West Bank while doing whatever it takes to evade serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Some observers have suggested that Netanyahu's assault on Gaza was orchestrated to disrupt the unity agreement the two Palestinian factions recently announced.
But Sharon saw this as a long-term process. “He wanted to delay an agreement for at least 50 years,” says Warschawski. “In his view, Israel needed as much time as possible, time to implement his vision.”
By withdrawing from Gaza, observes Klein, Sharon entrenched its physical separation from the West Bank. Parallel moves, banning the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic movement Hamas from East Jerusalem, would further isolate the Palestinians into three disconnected territories.Sharon went to great lengths to make sure the Palestinian Authority would get no credit from Gazans for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, fatally weakening the PA's political support among Gazans and giving a boost to Hamas' stature. This was a deliberate effort by Sharon to undermine the P.A. in Gaza.
“After he disengaged from Gaza, Sharon preferred that a strong group – Hamas – take control internally to prevent chaos,” says Klein. “But in the West Bank he did not want a strong leader. That was why he was so against Arafat, who he saw as a demon.Judging by their behavior Netanyahu along with Israel's present Right Wing leadership appear to still be following the roadmap Sharon laid out for gradually ethnically cleansing the West Bank, while doing everything they can to abort any serious peace initiatives.
“Operation Defensive Shield [in 2002] was about crushing the Palestinan Authority. When he later succeeded in bringing Abbas to power, he knew he would co-operate on security matters, that he would serve as a sub-contractor. In that way, Israel got to control all of the West Bank.”